Asparagus is one of my absolute favorite vegetables...  I like it cooked, raw, in soup, in quiche, on the grill, any way you can think of!  Lucky for me and the rest of the asparagus lovers out there, it is officially in season.  This is the first week for most Farmer’s Markets in the Midwest so while you are out browsing the booths be sure to look for some fresh asparagus.

What to look for?
•    Aim to use it soon after purchase, the sugar starts converting to starch soon after picking and can alter the taste causing a woody flavor
•    I prefer small, tender stalks however that is more a personal preference as I know others that prefer thick stalks.  I think the smaller stalks are less bitter and have a better texture when cooked.
•    No matter which size you prefer, look for uniformity.  This allows for even cooking.
•    The tips should be dark green or purple and should be tight.  If the tips are brown, mushy, or dried - don’t buy it.

How to store it?
•    For best flavor preservation, you should treat it like flowers.  If my husband brought me a bouquet, it would make me happier than flowers!  Bend the asparagus and it usually snaps near the bottom right where the stalk gets woody.  Then store it upright in water, a wide mouthed mason jar works well for this.
•    It can also be stored in the refrigerator and will keep well for 2-3 days

What to do with it?
•    the ideas are endless!
•    asparagus usually grows in sandy soil so make sure to wash it well especially at the tips
•    Try it raw just like you would broccoli or carrots.  I like it plain, mixed into a salad, or with a little hummus.
•    Boil:  submerge in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.
•    Grill:  toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil and herbs and put it in a grill pan for 7-10 minutes on medium setting
•    Microwave:  arrange the spears in a single layer with a few tablespoons of water and cover, cook for 6-8 minutes
•    Try these yummy frittata for an easy meal -

What’s so healthy about it?
•    It’s low calorie and loaded with nutrients!
•    Specifically, it is a good source of folic acid and Vitamin K.  Folic acid may help lower inflammation and heart disease and prevent neural tube defects.
•    It only has 20 calories per 1/2 cup cooked serving.  I can’t usually stop at 1/2 cup though but there’s not too much guilt in eating a full cup!


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